My parents’ divorce is supposed to be amicable. Dad was a computer consultant/trainer for many years and made (and spent) a lot of money. He went on disability about ten years ago, having saved nothing for retirement. Mom just retired after 35 years as a teacher and has a decent monthly pension – enough to pay most of the bills – and a lump sum sitting in the bank to accrue interest. Dad racked up a lot of credit card debt while Mom paid for his health insurance, medications, several ambulance rides, a heart attack and heart surgery, a broken ankle, and extensive dental work including upper dentures, also paying all of the regular bills like mortgage and utilities. Dad did not contribute to the household.

They made a deal that Mom will pay off Dad’s car loan and credit card debt and then give him an allowance for a few years. This means she has to cut into the money that was supposed to keep supporting her, and she has to substitute teach to pay the bills rather than doing it to keep from getting bored. Mom was satisfied with this arrangement (I think she volunteered for it) because it’s still better than giving Dad half the house and half her retirement benefits. Dad seemed satisfied too. We all knew he was getting more than he deserved.

Yesterday they went to the lawyer and Mom served Dad with divorce papers. Dad said he wasn’t going to sign until his lawyer looked at them. I’m not sure why he didn’t have his lawyer at the meeting in the first place. Mom is now worried because of course the lawyer is going to push for half. Dad came over for dinner yesterday and didn’t talk about the divorce. I talked to Mom after Dad had left, which was probably good because I might have been mean to him otherwise.

I couldn’t sleep last night, and I haven’t slept much for a while, so it was odd to lie in bed wide awake. I was a zombie at work this morning and left for the afternoon. I came home and ate lunch. And it finally just hit me that I’m absolutely furious. I’m mostly angry with my Dad for not saving for retirement, not being a good partner to Mom, not treating her better, not working harder to make sure they were both happy (they haven’t been for a long time), but I’m also angry at Mom for putting up with it all and not issuing an ultimatum years ago. She’d said a few times that she wouldn’t divorce him because he has no one else and he couldn’t make it on his own. She thought her parents (in their late 80s) would not understand if she divorced him, and she had a strong aversion to divorce because of God and vows and blahblahblah. (I don’t mean to dismiss something important to her, it’s just not something I can understand or access.) And then something happened and she is going through with the divorce and she wants the divorce and she needs the divorce, and if I could go back in time I’d say to her 10 years ago, “You’re getting divorced. Get ready for it.” And then maybe she wouldn’t wait so long.

Actually, if I could go back in time, I’d go back 30 years and tell Dad to start a damn retirement fund.

I’m glad that Mom is keeping the cat. She doesn’t like having pets because they’re messy, but this cat is the softest, sweetest, cuddliest kitten-sized furball, and Mom could use the company.

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